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Home > Mobile > What if Android Reassembles The Puzzle?

What if Android Reassembles The Puzzle?


ComScore has just published its Press Release related to February 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share. 69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 % from the preceding period. As we have become accustomed to a few months, the Android is still on the top, earning 7 percentage points since November 2010, achieving a 33% market share. RIM ranked second with 28.9 percent market share, followed by Apple with 25.2 percent. Microsoft (7.7 %) and Palm (2.8 %) rounded out the top five.

Top Smartphone Platforms:
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 26.0% 33.0% 7.0
RIM 33.5% 28.9% -4.6
Apple 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Microsoft 9.0% 7.7% -1.3
Palm 3.9% 2.8% -1.1

Considering the market share on a per-vendor base, provides a different interpretation, and explains some strategic mobile choices of the Mountain View giant. Among the OEM,  Samsung ranked at the #1 with 24.8% of U.S. mobile subscribers, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous three month period. LG ranked #2 with 20.9 percent share, followed by Motorola (16.1 %) and RIM (8.6 percent). Apple saw the strongest gain, up 0.9 percentage points to account for 7.5 percent of subscribers.

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 24.5% 24.8% 0.3
LG 20.9% 20.9% 0.0
Motorola 17.0% 16.1% -0.9
RIM 8.8% 8.6% -0.2
Apple 6.6% 7.5% 0.9

I am not new to this kind of considerations (already faced in a previous post in Italian), but it is clear that the Android Landscape is becoming a little bit too much fragmented, and this risks to be a serious issue for the Android, both in terms of consumers’ perception, both in terms of security. As far as the consumer perception is concerned: many vendors are pushing more and more customizations not only on their own Android ROMs, but even on the services provided to consumer (read vendor-dedicated markets and services). This sounds confusing for the consumer who will inevitably ask why should he consider, inside the same platform, different parameters of choice external to the mere features of the devices (and how they map to consumer’s need). Not to mention also the tragedy of software updates: a new major release of the Android may take also one year to be ported in some devices, because of the wide customizations made by the manufacturers on their smartphones.

As far as security considerations are concerned, customization affects platform (in)stability and, inevitably security, if it is true that the same code must be adapted to run on different architectures, and security bugs are always behind the door.

These factors are probably behind the rumors claiming that Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code, to make new interfaces and add services, and also behind the (not confirmed) rumors of standardizing the ARM Chip for Android 3.0. If we sum up these rumors with the fact the Mountain View will not (at least initially) release the Honeycomb Source Code, it looks clear that Google is running for cover in order to stem the excessive number of fragments in which OEM vendors are reducing its precious Android.

The Android is winning the market share battle against Apple and RIM, and forecasts for the next years show a bright future for the Android, destined to achieve nearly the half of the market in 2015. So far the Mountain View Strategy has shown to be winning, but the only obstacle, in this triumphant ride, could by represented by fragmentation, which might drive consumers to the monolithic models of Cupertino and Waterloo.

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